A Cloudy but Great Day to be on the Slopes!

Monday was kind of wet and dreary across the region. Today looks like it will be a mostly cloudy one but it should also be pretty decent with little or no wet stuff falling from the sky.

Looks like the clouds will hang around for today in Western North Carolina with highs in the low 40s and overnight lows tonight in the low 30s. Wednesday is looking a little wet with highs another degree or two milder. Then Thursday through the weekend is looking wonderful. Sunny skies will prevail and highs will be in the low to mid 50s and overnight lows will be in the mid 30s to 40° and that will firm up the snow for great early – day sessions across the region.

Tweak this forecast down literally a degree or two and you have the forecast for the ski areas into West Virginia and Maryland for today. There’s some reports of freezing drizzle in some WV locations this morning but those shouldn’t be an issue after 11am or so.

If you want to take advantage of what is basically mid-season snow and base depths with NO LIFT LINES then get to your favorite ski resort this weekend.

Lodging establishments are offering great, late season discounts and the ski areas are as well. With plenty of snow, cheaper rates and no lift lines – you guys should really take our advice and make one more trip to the mountains.


If you want some substantial savings on a season pass for next season, you should think about buying your seasons pass right now. Most all of the ski areas are promoting their 2010-2011 season passes at greatly discounted prices AND many are allowing you to ski and ride the rest of this season on the same pass.


The quick answer to this question/statement is "No". The reason that we are bringing it up is that we’ve received so many emails asking if resorts might do just that. A couple of people emailed us about Massanutten’s statement on Monday that they are adjusting their late season closing date a bit. Mass posted, "Due to unseasonably warm temperatures projected for the next two weeks, the Massanutten Ski Area and Tubing Park will be closing on March 22nd. We will try to re-open the weekend of March 26th – 28th for our final ski weekend."

That sent off a wave of questions as to whether or not other ski areas would follow suit. Honestly I don’t think so, but if we were to see a fair amount of rainy weather mixed into the next two week forecast all bets are off. The milder temperatures that Massanutten mentions in the forecast really are not THAT MILD. The average or normal high temp for this day each year is 52° across most of the region with 47° the average high around Snowshoe in West Virginia. The forecast for the next week ahead is for highs in the low to mid 50s. The overnight low temps for this time of year are usually in the 29-30° range and they are forecasted to be slightly milder than that for the week ahead with lows forecasted in the low to mid 30s. (Again, not all that milder than normal.)

We checked out the national weather service’s long range forecast and we’re seeing some systems moving into and through the area every few days that could bring some sprinkles of rain here and there, but this weekend is looking VERY NICE so as long as people come, resorts will offer terrain to ski and ride on with plenty of snow coverage and no lift lines.

So our early call here in SkiSoutheast.com land is that unless we see more in the way of rain develop in the region – most all of the ski resorts will stick to their previously announced schedules.


We get this question a lot. It is probably our most commonly asked question – only slightly ahead of "Will it snow on March 31st?" or some equally crazy "will it snow" question that come to us often three months ahead. Of course that is why we devoted almost all of our yearly operating budget to purchase that handy-dandy, computer software program to help us be able to project snowfalls three months in advance. We used the rest of our budget to hire our crack prognosticator, Will Itsno to run the programming.

Man I got off subject.

We’ve all been to the slopes and witnessed a little munchkin standing all of 25" tall firing down the mountain with no fear, no poles and followed by a crazed mother yelling "slow down Timmy". If you visit the slopes often enough you’ll even see one or two kids per weekend who are carving up the mountain like a seasoned pro – hooking up "S" turns like they’ve been on the slopes half their lives. In some cases there are some four or five year olds that would validate that assumption.

Those situations always prompt the question from parents – "When should we start our children skiing or snowboarding?" That question is almost always followed or proceeded by "Where’s the best slopes to take newbie skiers?"

I received a number of such emails from this past weekend and I’ve singled out one as the perfect example of what we get all the time.

Billie Odom of Brentwood, Tennessee wrote, "We are wanting to start skiing as a family. There are 4 of us (two 6 year olds, my husband and me). My husband is a beginner to intermediate level skier at the most. I have tried twice and still am very scared. But I like it. My girls have never been. We don’t mind necessarily trying different places but our main goal is to find a good place to start that has really (honestly) good trails for those of us who are very green. It would be nice if there was an intermediate slope as I am sure my husband would like that best. Don’t know if NC, WV etc…is best. I have been to XXXXXX and found it terrible for beginners. We went once to Lake Tahoe and it was nice but we really want to drive. Where are some good locations to start? Also, for beginners (children especially) is there better times than others (e.g. weather too miserable or too many crowds)?"

Notice we X’d out a ski area because she mentioned one in our region.

Billie (and all other moms and dads) – the TRUTH is you can find great beginner slopes at EVERY ski area in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. That might SOUND like a cop out answer but it isn’t. Our ski areas of the Southeast are BUILT around the core group of skiers and riders that make up the predominant number of skier visits that all of our ski areas receive – BEGINNERS. If you look at most of the ski area’s slope maps you’ll find that almost 40% of the terrain offered across the region is for BEGINNERS. As an example: Wisp Resort in Maryland has 41% of their 32 trails for beginners. 28% is for intermediate skiers and snowboards and 31% is for advanced or expert skiers. Snowshoe has a similar breakdown with 41% for beginners, 35% for intermediates and 23% for advanced riders. A lot of people write us about how challenging Sugar Mountain’s terrain can be, but the trail difficulty breakdown is 40% for BEGINNERS, 40% for intermediates, 16% for advanced and the have an additional 4% for experts skiers and riders.

Appalachian Ski Mountain has long been known as one of the best beginner ski areas to take families to (and they are) however they actually breaK their trail difficulty down as 18% for beginners, 55% for intermediates and 27% for advanced or what they call "Most Difficult" terrain.

FYI, you guys can click on ANY ski area link on SkiSoutheast.com and on the subsequent page you come to, we have all of the resort’s trail breakdown displayed for easy research.

Now that we’ve towed the party line and equally promoted all of the ski areas – I CAN tell you that – knowing what I know – if I were going to take newbie six year olds to the slopes for the first time, I would make the decision SOLELY based on which of the ski areas were most convenient for me to drive to. Period. They’re all good. They all offer quality ski instructors and THAT MY FRIENDS is the hidden pearl within this suggested answer to Billie’s question. Find a resort. Throw darts at a map with ALL of the Southeast’s resorts on it. Drive to that resort and while you’re on the way, hop on your cell phone and call the ski school and schedule a lesson for you and your kids. You can do it as a family or even better – get your kids with one instructor and you with a separate one. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot more if you’re not worried and concentrating on helping your kids deal with their instructor. The instructors at all of the ski areas know how to teach kids of all ages and they’ll do a great job if you’re not around…and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.

Maybe you’ll even get luckly and have "Sven the instructor-god: as your slope guide for the day. (Gosh I hope we don’t have an instructor named "Sven" at any of our ski areas ;-)) – For you guys out there – replace Sven with "Svetlana" unless of course… nope I’m not going there.

The main thing to know about all of the ski areas is that it is ALWAYS better to go take a lesson and ski or ride on ANY other day other than the weekend. Weekends are almost always busy and if you want to have the slopes nearly to yourself – go anytime Monday through Thursday. There are no lift lines and you won’t have to dodge thousands of other newbies who are often worse than you at missing people on the slopes!

That should do it for today…here are some notables:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – App is 100% open for day and night sessions, all terrain parks, ice skating and plenty of snow coverage. App has a great "Learn to Ski" deal running for the rest of their season.

Learn To Ski $42
Learn To Snowboard $54
Ages 6 & Up

Cost Includes:
Slope Ticket
Rental Equipment
1 Hour Group Lesson

March 15-April 11, 2010

Reservations are required at least
one day in advance.
No Deposit Necessary.

To reserve your space
Call 828-295-9311 or e-mail
[email protected]  

Beech Mountain Resort is open now for DAY SESSIONS ONLY for this week and is open with all but the Oz Run with groomed and variable conditions.

Cataloochee is open this week with 100% of the terrain and a minimum base depth of 51" from 1pm-10pm daily.

Sugar Mountain is 100% open with all 20 trails and ice skating and tubing are both open as well. Sugar is open for day and night sessions. We’ll be hanging with the Valle Crucis Elementary School kids at Sugar today and that should be a great day of fun.

Join Sugar Sunday, March 21 for Sugar’s 4th annual Easter Egg Hunt. Dress up in your Easter costume and join Sugar Bear and Sweetie Bear on the slopes in search of prize filled eggs. Be the lucky winner when you find an egg containing a season pass! Valid lift/slope tickets or passes are required for participation. Event is for children 12 and under ONLY and begins at 9am at the bottom of Summit #1 lift. Please call Sugar for additional details.

Wolf Ridge Resort is CLOSED THIS WEEK from Monday-Friday and will reopen on Saturday from 9am-4:30pm when you can ski or ride at 1/2 price!

Sapphire Valley is now CLOSED FOR THE SEASON

Bryce Resort was tentatively considering closing this past weekend but brisk skier traffic and good snow prompted them to remain open and they offer 7 of 8 trails for skiing and snowboarding today from 9am-3pm. No tubing sessions.

Massanutten is open with all 14 trails and tubing for today from 11am-7pm today through Thursday. Mass had planned on staying open daily through at least March 28th, but today they become the first ski area to change up their plans as they announced, "Due to unseasonably warm temperatures projected for the next two weeks, the Massanutten Ski Area and Tubing Park will be closing on March 22nd. We will try to re-open the weekend of March 26th – 28th for our final ski weekend."

The Homestead is open with 6 of 10 trails and snow tubing for today.

Wintergreen Resort is riding on 19 of 26 trails from 9am-5pm this week. Tubing is closed until Saturday. They posted, "SLIDE AND SPLASH BASH WEEKEND IS ON THE WAY. MUSIC, POND SKIMMING, RAIL JAM, AND MORE! SPRING IS HERE AND PROVIDING US WITH COOL EVENINGS AND MILD DAYS."

Canaan Valley – On Monday they reported their first TRACE of snow in the last 12 days. This morning they are reporting another .4" of snow in the last 24 hours/ After 250.4" of snowfall through March 4th the Davis, WV ski area had not seen any natural snow. Canaan is 100% open with all 39 trails for day sessions on Tuesday.

Snowshoe Mountain picked up 1" of new snow and is open with 42 of 60 trails now that they’ve shut down the Silvercreek side of the mountain. That means that Snowshoe is now day skiing and snowboarding only for the rest of the season – which we remind you is not until April 5th (Monday).

Snowshoe has some great deals going on right now: They are offering some great deals that last week, including FREE skiing with any 2+ night stay and $20 lift tickets for anyone showing a 09-10 pass from any other mountain. Plus, Snowshoe 2010-2011 season passes are now on sale. By purchasing early you’ll save up to 25% and ski for FREE for the remainder of this season. Call 877-441-4386 for complete details and to book your Snowshoe escape today!

Timberline Resort has 37 trails open for day sessions today. They host their ANNUAL SNOWY LUAU CELEBRATION this weekend as well!

Winterplace Resort is looking strong with 27 of 28 trails open. Tubing is open as well! They have tweaked their opening schedule now and announced, "Today – Thurs. 3/18 open 9am to 5 pm; Fri 3/19 & Sat 3/20 is 9 am – 9 pm; Sunday 3/21 through closing is 9am – 5 pm.

Wisp Resort is open for day sessions today on 30 of 32 trails and they offer snow tubing and ice skating as well.

Ober Gatlinburg is closed for skiing or snowboarding until Friday. Tubing is open. Slopes will be closed until Friday, March 18th at noon. Tubing open at Noon Monday – Thursday.

We’re on day 110 and there are 27 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!

Go enjoy the snow! Check out the Snow Report at http://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php  and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.